Here’s a very interesting post from Terry Pitts, discussing Ishmael Reed’s 1972 novel Mumbo-Jumbo. Terry’s excellent blog on can be found here: Vertigo: Where literature and art intersect, with an emphasis on W.G. Sebald and literature with embedded photographs.
I recently reread (and wrote about) Ishmael Reed’s 1972 novel Mumbo Jumbo. I probably first read it in the 1970s and I don’t recall being unduly surprised by finding a horde of strange images included within the text. In the anything-goes era of Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan, Donald Barthelme, Guy Davenport, and others, it felt as if the novel form was being redefined continuously. Adding real images to works of fiction was just another way to shake up the establishment.
In his book Postmodernist Fiction (I still use the first edition of 1987), Brian McHale refers to much of the imagery that was beginning to appear in novels like Mumbo Jumbo as “anti-illustration.” In his words, images ” contribute to and serve to heighten the polyphonic structure of these texts; through their surrealist non-sequiturs, they bring worlds of discourse, visual and verbal, into collision.” In fact, five…
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